By Matthew Rothschild on January 05, 2007
A Journalistic Bias Toward Acquiescence
By Matthew Rothschild

January 5, 2007

There’s a sick collusion going on in Washington.

And I’m not talking about the corporate lobbyists and the elected officials who represent them.

No, I’m talking about centrist Democrats and the hack journalists who cover them.

You could see this collusion in a so-called “News Analysis” piece by Carl Hulse of The New York Times of January 5.

The headline was a big clue: “For Democrats, a Choice: Forward or Reverse?”

Let’s see now. What’s got a more positive connotation?

It’s not reverse.

But reverse in this case means the Democrats “can spend their energy trying to reverse what they see as the flaws of the Bush Administration and a dozen years in which conservative philosophy dominated Congress.”

And forward means “they can accept the rightward tilt of that period and grudgingly concede that big tax cuts, deregulation, restrictions on abortion, and other Republican-inspired changes are now a permanent part of the legislative framework.”

The Times has its directions mixed up. Capitulating is not going forward. Fighting on principle is not going backward.

The piece quotes Rahm Emanuel, the obnoxious Clinton apparatchik who is chairman of the Democratic Caucus and archenemy of Howard Dean. The Times loves Emanuel and all but beatified him in a New York Times Magazine story a few months ago.

Here, Emmanuel says all the focus should be on “restoring economic security to a very vulnerable middle class.”

The piece concludes by supplying the answer to the question in the headline.

“Leading Democrats,” who go unidentified, “say their best direction is forward, concentrating on establishing a new party legacy rather than obsessing with the perceived failings of Republican rule.”

Obsessing?

Perceived failings?

How would Hulse describe destroying the environment, tearing up the Constitution, waging a reckless war, sleeping through Katrina, and curbing women’s rights?

Are those perceived or actual?

Something to accept or something to renounce?

The news analyst for the Times has given you his answer.

Thus does analysis turn into advocacy.

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A plea to United States citizens to work for peace

An Indian journalist globally renowned as an advocate for the poor, Palagummi Sainath detailed the detrimental...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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